Premier League Roundup: Arsenal, Liverpool, Hull and Stoke all win

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It was another superb day of action in the Premier League which didn’t see as many goal scored as last weekend, but there was still plenty of controversy.

From the wet and windy start in the early kickoff at Craven Cottage to late drama at St. Mary’s and St. James’ Park and the late game at Villa Park, there were some tight games in Week 2 of the Premier League.

Plus Hull City and Norwich City fought tooth and nail in a real battle at the KC Stadium in a tremendous game.

We covered them all at ProSoccerTalk, so here are the recaps with plenty more reaction to come. And here are the Premier League standings… it may be a bit earlier to scrutinize the standings but have a go anyway.

Fulham 1-3 Arsenal

The Gunners finally picked up their first points of the season, with a resounding win over Fulham at a soggy Craven Cottage. Olivier Giroud somewhat fortuitously put Arsenal ahead after the impressive Aaron Ramsey had a shot that hit Giroud before the Frenchman tucked the ball home. German international Lukas Podolski then tidied up to nab Arsenal’s second before the break and Podolski struck again to make it 3-0 in the 67th minute. A late consolation for Fulham’s new signing Darren Bent on his debut was all the Cottagers could muster, as Arsene Wenger’s side prospered.

Southampton 1-1 Sunderland

It took just two minutes for Sunderland to take the lead at Southampton, as Italian international Emanuele Giaccherini headed home Sebastian Larsson’s superb corner. The Saints pressed for an equalizer for the next 86 minutes (having 67 percent of the possession but failing to break the Black Cats down) and finally got their breakthrough when Portuguese defender Jose Fonte headed home with two minutes left. St. Mary’s erupted as the points were shared but the Saints really should have grabbed all three as manager Mauricio Pochettino pointed out in his post-match press conference.

Aston Villa 0-1 Liverpool

A fine game at Villa Park as Liverpool snatched their second-straight 1-0 win to open the season. Daniel Sturridge was again the game-winner, as his delightful finish in the 21st minute proved enough to seal three more points for Brendan Rodgers’ side. Villa played well in the second half, with Simon Mignolet pulling off a great save from a powerful Christian Benteke shot in the final few minutes. This Liverpool team is still gelling but after two wins from two and two shutouts, the Reds are on the charge.

Hull City 1-0 Norwich City

Steve Bruce was over the moon following this one, as Hull City grabbed a win despite playing for over an hour down a man. Yannick Sagbo was sent off in the 27th minute for throwing his weight around, but Hull were already 1-0 up thanks to Robbie Brady’s penalty five minutes earlier. A nervy final 60 minutes played out at the KC Stadium but Hull beat Norwich and now head to Manchester City next weekend. A much needed win for the newly promoted side.

Newcastle 0-0 West Ham United

This game never really got going until stoppage time. West Ham looked solid and reduced Newcastle to speculative efforts throughout, and the Hammers had two great chances through Winston Reid and Kevin Nolan either side of half time. But in the 91st minute Modibo Maiga thought he’d won it for the Hammers but his tap in goal from five yards out was from an offside position. Then Newcastle spurned a glorious opportunity to grab all three points in the 93rd minute, when Sammy Ameobi’s cross hit the post and rebounded to Yoan Gouffran four yards out… but somehow the Frenchman hit his effort over.

Everton 0-0 West Bromwich Albion

Another stalemate, but this one was by no means boring as the Toffees came unstuck at home to West Brom. In Roberto Martinez’ first game in charge at Goodison Park, Everton started brightly but ‘keeper Ben Foster was in inspired form for the Baggies. He went off injured late on and Marouane Fellaini also grabbed the win but his shot in the 82nd minute beat substitute goalkeeper Luke Daniels, but not the post.

Stoke City 2-1 Crystal Palace

It was all going so well for newly promoted Crystal Palace at half time. 1-0 up away from home at one of the toughest venues to visit in the Premier League, Ian Holloway’s men were all smiles as they walked off the pitch. But then Stoke turned quickly turned the game on its head. New Palace signing Marouane Chamakh had opened the scoring with a lovely finish after 31 minutes. But then Stoke struck twice in the space of four minutes through Charlie Adam and Ryan Shawcross to seal Mark Hughes’ first win in charge of the Potters. Palace remain pointless after two games.

Jurgen Klopp already wants a piece of Man City next season

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Manchester City may have run away with the Premier League title this year, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can’t wait for a clean slate to try and challenge City’s title defense next season.

The Reds are into the Champions League semifinals and also looking to finish the Premier League season strong in a battle for positioning in the top four, but when asked about next year, Klopp was giddy.

“Of course I don’t fear the challenge,” Klopp said in his prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League visit to West Brom on Saturday morning.

The German made it clear he wants a piece of Manchester City next season. “This year, if City plays a normal season – which they didn’t do – then it would have been really close until the end because we are now all close together.”

“United is four points ahead [of Liverpool], Tottenham is two points behind. It’s a real fight for these positions. All big six pretty much delivered this year but City delivered the best. We will see. It’s difficult to deal with success as it is difficult to deal with other things in football but I’m pretty sure they will be strong again.”

Liverpool is one of only two teams to beat City in league play this year, with Manchester United being the other. Klopp and company torched the City back line in a wild 4-3 victory that ended City’s 22-match unbeaten run. Ultimately, though, Klopp knows they have to look at the entire season as a whole to best the defending champs next year, not just their matches against each other.

“It’s not important how good City will be, it’s about how we can get all the other points, plus the points we got so far again,” he said. “That’s the job to do. That is why it is always possible that it is closer. But are they able to dominate? They don’t have a limit to spending and all that stuff so I don’t know.”

VIDEO: Goalkeeper sends Memphis Depay flying with skillful touch

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Former Manchester United attacker Memphis Depay has one of the brightest spots for Lyon this season that sees them battling with Monaco and Marseille for 2nd place behind a dominant PSG. He has scored 15 goals and assisted 11 others this Ligue 1 campaign, adding to his tally just four minutes into Friday’s 5-2 win over Dijon, the sixth win in a row for the club that pulled them within a point of Monaco.

However, there was a moment to forget for Depay in the victory as well.

With the score still at 1-1 in the 19th minute, Depay was sent high up the pitch to press Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, owner of the leakiest net of the Ligue 1 season. Nevertheless, sometimes the underdog prevails, and that’s what happened as Depay flung himself at the ball to put Reynet under pressure.

One silky touch by the netminder was all it took for Depay to end up on his backside.

The 24-year-old Dutch winger has had a fantastic season and one that could potentially propel him back to the biggest stage and a bigger paycheck, but for now, we can all poke fun at his misery in the moment.

Dortmund admits interest in signing Batshuayi permanently

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Michy Batshuayi might be out for the season with a serious ankle injury, but he may have already done enough to earn a permanent move to Borussia Dortmund.

The Chelsea striker moved on loan to the Bundesliga side in January and made an immediate impact, scoring two goals on his debut, and ultimately wound up with seven goals in 10 Bundesliga games before his ankle injury brought his season to a close. Now, the Dortmund front office is speaking very highly of the Belgian goalscorer, not so subtly hinting that they will take an aggressive approach this summer.

The interest to sign him is there,” said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke. “But first we have to wait and see who will be Chelsea’s coach next season. Then we’ll start looking.”

Chelsea has Antonio Conte currently at the helm, but there are strong rumors that the Italian will depart at the end of the season as the Blues sit comfortably outside the Champions League places. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is known for his quick trigger, and despite Conte winning the Premier League just last season, this year’s disappointment will likely not be tolerated.

That yet-to-be-determined future has a significant impact on Batshuayi’s future, as Watzke mentions. The new Chelsea boss could take a liking to Batshuayi, which could complicate his permanent move. In addition, it’s possible that current players on the Blues roster could depart, like Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud, or Willian, making Batshuayi’s place at Chelsea more tenable.

There’s plenty to be sorted out in the coming months, but with Batshuayi’s 10-game performance at Westfalenstadion at the forefront of Watzke’s mind, it’s clear there will be potential here as the summer draws near.

Sessegnon scores 15th as Fulham equals Man City unbeaten mark

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Fulham equalled the longest unbeaten run in the English top four tiers this season as it defeated sixth-placed Millwall 3-0 on the road to increase its streak to 22 games without a loss and moving the club into position for automatic promotion.

The Whites have not lost since December 16th when they fell 1-0 to relegation-threatened Sunderland. The unbeaten streak matches Manchester City’s run of 22 games to start the Premier League campaign before a 4-3 loss to Liverpool in mid-January broke the spell.

Highlighting the match was the game’s opening goal from 17-year-old Ryan Sessegnon, the young defender’s 15th goal of the Championship season. Just a week ago, Sessegnon was named a finalist for PFA Player of the Year alongside Harry Kane, Leroy Sane, and Raheem Sterling. Also scoring in the win was Newcastle loanee Aleksandar Mitrovic who has bagged 11 goals in 15 matches since moving to Craven Cottage on Deadline Day of the winter transfer window, sparking talk of a possible permanent move should the Whites find themselves promoted at the end of the season. Fulham has not trailed a single second since he stepped on the field for his club debut.

Manager Slavisa Jokanovic has the team firing on all cylinders, outscoring opponents 49-14 during the unbeaten streak and racking up 56 out of a possible 66 points, with just five draws blemishing an otherwise perfect record. The club has scored first in 15 straight matches, and has not trailed since drawing level in the closing minutes of a 2-2 draw with Hull City on December 30th. The only teams in the top four leagues to score more goals than Fulham since Jokanovic took over are Liverpool and Manchester City.

USMNT defender Tim Ream has been arguably the club’s most valuable player during the streak, locking down a defense that has picked up 11 clean sheets during the unbeaten run. Ream has played in all but two league matches this season, completing the full 90 minutes in all 41 of his appearances thus far. He has been voted Man of the Match five times this season by the fans on the team’s official website, most recently in a 1-0 victory over Reading on April 10th. He also grabbed the award in a 2-0 win over Championship title winners Wolves on February 24th, a game that saw the Whites out-possess and out-shoot the league champions. Ream had this stunning goal-line clearance in the victory over Millwall on Friday, saving Fulham’s bacon with goalkeeper Marcus Bettinelli on the ground after an acrobatic save.

Fulham still has work to do in the Premier League promotion picture, despite the spectacular form. They sit in 2nd position as it stands, leading Cardiff City by two points, but Cardiff has yet to play this weekend, giving them a massive two games in hand. Fulham could ultimately be done in by a slow start to the season that saw them win just twice in the first nine matches of the season as the squad adjusted to a host of new additions. In addition, Fulham suffered a disappointing draw last time out against Brentford as the Bees scored in the 94th minute to deny Fulham all three points, a massive blow to their automatic promotion hopes. Still, Fulham would be considered favorites in any potential playoff run, with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough, and Millwall currently the other teams in playoff positions.

There’s plenty on the line for the club over the next few weeks. Should Fulham fail to gain promotion, it could be a massive blow to the club as Sessegnon could be lured away from Craven Cottage, with Jokanovic and playmaker Tom Cairney also likely to garner speculation of a departure over the summer if the club was to remain in the Championship.